Have you ever bought a car without taking it for a spin first? Of course not. Partnering with the technology vendor should be no different. You should not have to make a big investment in a partnership until you are confident it’s a good fit.
Just like buying a car, it may be your dream ride … or a lemon.
A Need for Balance
Of course, no partner program is perfect. But Hans Peter Beck, author of “Building Successful Partner Programs,” tells vendors that while channel partner programs shouldn’t be a “free ride” for partners, there needs to be a good sense of balance. “It should be fair and balanced, requiring investments and focus from you and from your channel partners. Otherwise it will not work.”
But partners many times join a vendor program only to find out it falls short. Many programs lack strong channel-focused operations. In some cases, partners end up in a program simply because they had a customer who requested a specific product, and the partner’s only option to satisfy the customer request was to join the vendor’s partner program in order to access the product.
And, in other scenarios, partners bump heads with the direct sales organization over a certain deal, and there is no clear policy or code of conduct to guide behavior or resolve a situation.
Take a Vendor-Partner Test Drive
A vendor with a well-established channel program--one that is interested in investing in its channel's and partners’ futures--will offer entry-level programs with limited benefits and no program fees. In doing so, partners can take a test drive without any upfront financial commitments, and no risks. This approach gives prospective partners room to feel out a new partnership and see if there’s a fit before going to the next level of financial and resource commitments.
To this point, I have to say that SAP is doing a great job in helping prospective partners evaluate a program without forking over any program fees. The SAP PartnerEdge Open Ecosystem program has two flavors, basic, and specialized.
The no-fee SAP PartnerEdge Open Ecosystem basic provides potential partners:
- Access to SAPPartnerEdge.com partner portal to view product, marketing, sales and resource assets, so that they can figure out what type of partner engagement that they want within the Open Ecosystem, or a more committed relationship as a Silver level partner.
- Access to on-demand learning to see if the training is what they are looking
The no-fee SAP PartnerEdge Open Ecosystem specialized provides partners:
- Three-engagement models: Build, Service and Sell
- Free training
- The sell engagement model provides partners access to products that are sold through authorized SAP distributors.
- Interested partners just sign an online agreement and they are good to go, and they can upgrade to the full-fledged program anytime, if qualified.
So, if you’re not quite ready to buy into a program fully, but want to see how it runs and if it meets your needs, ask the vendor if they have an entry-level program that you can test drive.
Ira Simon (@IraASimon) is global vice president, Partner & SME Marketing, at SAP. Learn more about partnership opportunities at: http://go.sap.com/partner.html